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Seeing Butterflies


Black Women Contributors in Science

Black Women in Science


Math and science have always been considered “male subjects” as they involve logic and numbers, which apparently emotional females cannot handle. This stereotype starts with gender-based toys that tell little girls to concern themselves with dolls and hair care, while boys get chemistry sets and bricks to demolish. The encouragement, or lack thereof, from parents also has a huge impact on the ambitions of children.

These 10 women pushed past this stereotype and indulged their interest in these typically masculine topics, which led to revolutionary discoveries and a whole lot of firsts. Hopefully the next generation will continue to rebel against gender stereotypes and give in to their passions.

Dr. Patricia E. Bath

The Harlem native was the first Black female doctor to receive a medical patent for her invention of the laserphaco probe, which made cataract treatment less painful and more precise. Her invention has gifted so many people with sight over the years and her research led to programs that allowed people from all financial restrictions to benefit from her invention. She broke down numerous barriers as a woman and Black person within the field of ophthalmology through her positions in education, her research discoveries and with her co-finding of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. In 1993 she was named the Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine for her work. She is now a strong advocate of telemedicine, which uses technology to provide medical treatment to remote areas.

Alice A. Ball

20000211 CTY Mr. Ali 01 photo of woman ( on left) who helped find cure for leprosy. photo by Craig T. Kojima

Alice Augusta Ball’s revolutionary research into a cure for the Hansen disease (otherwise known as leprosy) was still being used almost 90 years after her passing. Her research studied the effect of chaulmooga oil on patients suffering from leprosy, a chronic infection caused by bacteria. After she died, at the tender age of 24, the “Ball Method” was refined and ended up treating many patients successfully. However, she never received recognition for her contributions, as the credit was given to those who added to her work later on.

Alice was the first African-American and the first woman to graduate with a masters in chemistry from the University of Hawaii in 1914. A year after her graduation, she was also the first woman to teach the subject at the university. The University of Hawaii eventually acknowledged her as one of their most distinguished graduates in 2000.

Valerie Thomas

Valerie is a prime example of why little girls should be encouraged to indulge their curiosity in math and science in the same way that boys are. Thankfully, despite all the hurdles her gender created, her passion for science never faded, and she went on to do great work with NASA. Even in university, she was only one of two women to major…


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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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What Does It Mean To Be “Black Butterfly Beautiful”

The image of the butterfly has come to define the many expressions of the feminine black consciousness and for a good reason. The butterfly is the perfect articulation of the exquisite beauty of nature. Whether tiny or large, brightly colored or more subdued, the butterfly’s allure is undeniable. Each one displays its own unique patterns and hues, and no one species outshines any other.

Similarly, there is no one ideal image of a black woman -- each is gorgeous in her right. All African-Americans share a glorious history of struggle and perseverance that has funneled into the modern black renaissance. And, like the graceful butterfly, the awakened black woman exemplifies the dazzling beauty of that cultural evolution.

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